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March 5, 2010

Twitter's mysterious 10 billionth tweet

Posted: 12:49 PM ET

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/05/c1main.twitter.on.twitter.courtesy.jpg caption=""]
Twitter hit a major milestone late Thursday – when someone hit the “update” button on the networking site’s 10 billionth tweet.

The question Friday morning? Who was it and what did they say?

Unfortunately for the curious masses, it appears that the landmark tweet was posted by someone who has set their feed to be private by default.

A search for tweet No. 10 billion – individual posts on the site are identified by a number – yields a message saying that page is unavailable.

It was unclear whether Twitter was pursuing the user to see if they’d like to go public. The site’s spokespeople were notably quiet – with no mention of the milestone on their official Twitter feed and no new posts on their blog.

The two nearest misses, however, were public and show the range of ways the micro-blogging site is used.

Tweet number 9,999,999,999 was by a user with the handle @lelamarques, who posted a link to a gallery of “urban decay” photographs – a genre that celebrates the hidden beauty of abandoned buildings.

The user lists her address as Sao Luis, Brazil, and most of her posts are in Portugese – a nod to Twitter’s increasing international popularity.

Twitter has been lauded as a game-changing tool during such internationally notable events as the Iranian election protests and post-earthquake fundraising in Haiti.

But tweet Number 10,000,000,001 likely won’t impress those who consider it a hotbed of meaningless chatter.

In a feed from a woman who says she lives in Bronx, New York, the tweet read simply, “$Pretty N Paid$.”

Her feed is filled with profanity and misspelled words, often written in all caps – considered poor form by many Internet users. [NOTE: Since Friday morning, that user has switched her feed to private].

Interest in the milestone was high on the micro-blogging site, which has seen astronomical growth since it started in 2007. Thursday evening, the site for GigaTweet, an app that tracks the number of Twitter posts in real time, was down – presumably from overuse.

While the total number of Twitter users appeared to flatline several months ago, the sites activity levels has continued to spiral upward.

Twitter saw its 1 billionth tweet about a year ago and hit 5 billion tweets about four months ago.

According to a Wednesday night e-mail from Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, the number of Twitter accounts has grown 1,500 percent in the past year.

The company’s low-key response to the much-anticipated tweet, at least in the first several hours that followed, is in stark contrast to how Apple greeted a similar milestone recently.

When the company’s online store sold its 10 billionth download, the lucky customer got a $10,000 Apple gift card and a personal phone call from Steve Jobs.

Roseanne Cash, the daughter of the music legend whose song was purchased, also was on the call to thank Woodstock, Georgia's, Louis Sulcer for buying one of her dad’s songs.

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